Author: Cliff White
French and Australian authorities recently joined forces for a marine patrol on the lookout for illegal fishing in Australian waters.
From 21 November to 15 December 2016, two Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) fisheries officers joined the French Navy on a three-week fisheries patrol on board the B2M D’Entrecasteaux, a multi-purpose French naval vessel based in Noumea, New Caledonia, according to an AFMA press release.
“The main aim of the patrol was to investigate the recent sightings of vessels fishing illegally in the vicinity of Chesterfield Reef located to the western edge of New Caledonia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, about 200 nautical miles east of Gladstone,” according to the release.
Aerial surveillance from French, Australian and New Zealand authorities detected three vessels suspected of illegally harvesting sea cucumber in the area. One of these vessels was apprehended in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone by the Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Pirie on 30 November.
Later that week, BM2 D’Entrecasteaux boarded a Vietnamese-flagged fishing vessel believed to be conducting illegal diving operations in the area of Chesterfield Reef. After being boarded, the vessel was found to have illegally caught more than three tons of processed sea cucumber. As a result, the French authorities confiscate the vessel’s catch and fishing gear.
“Collaboration with our international counterparts is an important part of successful fisheries management,” AFMA said in its release. “Australian Fisheries Management Authority Fisheries Officers routinely conduct joint patrols to help combat the global issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”